Ari Lennox: Her 7 Best R&B Grooves

BYWyatt Westlake811 Views
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 02: (Editorial Use Only) Ari Lennox performs on the main stage during Day 2 of Wireless Festival 2022 at Crystal Palace Park on July 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)
Since signing with J. Cole’s label in 2015, Lennox has established herself as one of modern R&B’s most exciting voices.

This past Friday, Ari Lennox returned with her latest single, “Get Close,” along with an accompanying music video. Her new release delivers the signature R&B grooves that she is known for. While her last full-length album, age/sex/location dropped last year, Ari Lennox has been active throughout 2023, appearing on Dreamville’s Creed III soundtrack, headlining her own tour, and opening for Rod Wave on his arena tour.

Since signing with J. Cole’s label in 2015, Lennox has established herself as one of modern R&B’s most exciting voices. With sultry slow jams and velvety soul, she has only ascended in popularity, gaining her own cult following. To commemorate her latest single, and hope for more new music, we are highlighting Ari Lennox’s 7 best R&B grooves that showcase her unique vocals and skillful songwriting. Take a look at the list below.

"Night Drive" (2016)

“Night Drive” is one of Ari Lennox’s early classics. From her 2016 EP and first release for Dreamville and Interscope, Pho, the song is one of the brightest moments on the tracklist. With its upbeat tempo and colorful horns, the instrumental matches Ari Lennox’s rich singing voice. She skips across the beat in her verses before smoothly singing the chorus. Definitely the grooviest song on Pho, “Night Drive” remains one of Ari Lennox’s best songs to date.

"BMO" (2019)

A standout track from Lennox’s 2019 debut album, Shea Butter Baby, “BMO” displays her musical personality. Fellow Dreamville signee Omen produced the track, sampling Galt MacDermot’s “Space,” which was notably flipped for Busta Rhymes’s “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check.” “BMO” does not rely on its famous sample, but instead lends itself to compliment Ari Lennox’s passionate and lively delivery. She sings one of her catchiest choruses and skillfully adds additional melodies in the background. “BMO” is an essential track in Ari Lennox’s discography.

"Up Late" (2019)

One of Ari Lennox’s greatest strengths as an artist is how she mesmerizes listeners over downbeat R&B grooves. “Up Late” is a prime example of that, with its laid-back instrumental setting the mood for Ari Lennox to sing some of her most sensual lyrics. A steamy track, “Up Late” also contains some of her best vocal moments as she weaves between soft notes and belting high notes. One of her best R&B moments, the song channels Ari's neo-soul influence.

"New Apartment" (2019)

“New Apartment” is an empowering track that exhibits Ari Lennox’s skills as a songwriter. The title is quite self-explanatory as she sings about getting a new place, but it serves as a major milestone for her career. As Ari sings about being able to freely do as she pleases within her new apartment, she feels encouraged by her own confidence. She sings, “Nobody can tell me shit.” The song’s funky bassline and groovy tempo create a light-hearted environment for Ari Lennox to bask in her self-assurance.

"BUSSIT" (2020)

A solo cut from the deluxe edition of Dreamville’s Revenge Of The Dreamers III, “BUSSIT” is one of Ari Lennox’s most playful tracks. Over a smooth instrumental, she seductively croons about a guy she is interested in. It is also one of her most explicit songs as she sings, “Work out my spine, I need you near / You scared of love, but f*ck your fear.” The beat matches her typical R&B sound but she flows like a rapper, finding the pocket in the drum patterns. Ari Lennox nicely adlibs her own vocals with various runs and harmonies. “BUSSIT” is one of her most underrated tracks and one of the most memorable moments from the Dreamville compilation.

"Pressure" (2021)

Easily Ari’s biggest single to date, “Pressure” blends both vintage with modern. The bouncy Jermaine Dupri-produced track samples Shirley Brown’s 1977 song “Blessed Is The Woman (With A Man Like Mine).” The sample evokes the Motown era of soul while sounding fresh with its contemporary percussion. Ari’s highest-charting single to date, “Pressure” is animated and suggestive in its mood and lyrics. Compared to her early work, the song is significantly more polished but Ari still shines as she provides her unique voice to the track. The lead single from age/sex/location is one of Ari Lennox’s most essential songs.

"Gummy" (2022)

“Gummy” comes from Ari Lennox’s criminally underrated Away Message EP, which was released just days before age/sex/location. The short project full of songs that didn't quite make the album has plenty of gems, including this song, which is one of Ari Lennox’s grooviest songs. The 90s R&B influence is clearly present on “Gummy” with its soulful and sexual lyrics. Ari Lennox’s harmonies particularly stand out as they accentuate her lyrics, adding to the song’s funky instrumentation. "Gummy” is one of many R&B grooves that we have come to know and love from Ari Lennox. Hopefully, the release of “Get Close” is a sign that there is more music on the way.

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About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.
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